Drago Nikolic's defense counsel cross-examined the prosecution witness today. The witness maintained that he had seen the accused at the execution site near Orahovac. On 14 July 1995 about a thousand Bosniak men captured after the fall of Srebrenica were executed there. The witness did not know that Nikolic was the security officer in the Zvornik Brigade. He simply knew him as "a decent officer" who "had a great deal of success” in arranging prisoner exchanges

Drago Nikolic in the courtroomDrago Nikolic in the courtroom

Drago Nikolic's defense counsel tried to discredit the prosecution witness today, suggesting that his testimony was motivated by guarantees he had sought and obtained from the prosecution. Drago Nikolic is the former security chief in the Zvornik brigade and one of the seven Bosnian Serb military and police officers charged with crimes in Srebrenica and Zepa. The prosecution’s reply was that the only guarantee the witness asked for was that his identity and face would be protected.

In his cross-examination, the witness testifying under the pseudonym 101 stuck to his claim that he had seen Nikolic at the execution site near the Orahovac school. According to the indictment, about 1,000 Bosniak men were shot dead there on 14 July 1995, after being held in the local school.

The witness maintains that Nikolic was in a position to hear the orders to shoot the prisoners who were brought to the execution site in groups. However, he could not confirm that Nikolic himself had issued such orders. He did not know at the time that Nikolic was the security officer in the Zvornik Brigade and only knew him as "a decent officer" who was in charge of prisoner exchanges and was very successful at arranging them.

Nikolic's defense counsel confronted the witness with the statements given by potential defense witnesses. They contest his story about saving the life of a six-year old boy at the execution site. After "a batch" of prisoners was executed, the boy "rose from a pile of dead bodies". The witness claims he then took the boy to hospital. There are contradictory statements. According to one of them, the boy was not taken to the hospital but back to the school in Orahovac, where the prisoners were picked up to be taken to the execution site. According to the other, the boy was taken to hospital, but only because the witness's commander ordered that. The witness categorically rejected both statements presented by the defense counsel, sticking by his version of events.

Answering the questions by Vinko Pandurevic's defense counsel, the witness confirmed that he had not seen the commander of the Zvornik Brigade in the days immediately after the fall of Srebrenica. He said that Pandurevic was a "very competent and very clever person" and "a rare example of a man you didn't need to love but whom you had to respect". The witness claimed there had been a rumor going on at the time that "Zuti", Pandurevic's nickname, "passed the hot potato to Dragan Obrenovic and weaseled out of trouble". The witness is not sure if this rumor was true and to what extent. He said, “my heart would break if he had to be punished and served time in prison".

Dragan Obrenovic was the chief of staff in the Zvornik Brigade and pleaded guilty to participation in the Srebrenica crimes. He was sentenced to 17 years in prison.